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Bulgaria now ruled compliant with global AML standards

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Bulgaria’s fortified anti-money laundering (AML) rules, including tougher oversight of the gambling sector, are now compliant with international standards according to a Council of Europe oversight body.

A Moneyval follow-up report found that Bulgaria has improved its measures for tackling money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism since a disparaging mutual evaluation report was published in 2022. Two years ago, the Moneyval committee placed Bulgaria on its compliance enhancing procedures. This has the Council of Europe work with individual countries to rectify AML failings.

Moneyval found that out of 40 applicable Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, Bulgaria is now fully or largely compliant in 13. The nation is at least partially compliant with the remaining 13 recommendations.

Among those areas now fully compliant are designated non-professional business and professions (DNFBPs) customer due diligence. This includes the gambling and casino sector, as well as real estate and legal services.

“Since the adoption of its mutual evaluation report in May 2022, Bulgaria has taken numerous steps to strengthen its anti-money laundering and combatting terrorist financing systems,” Moneyval said in a statement.

Moneyval is a permanent monitoring body of the Council of Europe entrusted with the task of assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

New AML monitoring unit in Bulgaria

Last year, a new National Revenue Agency (NRA) in Bulgaria ramped up its oversight of gambling with the creation of a new AML unit.

The AML unit will enforce requirements such as customer verification, collecting documents and creating money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessments. It will also monitor operations, transactions and customers flagged as suspicious and share information with authorities in other countries.

The unit sits within the NRA. This is the department which assumed control of gambling regulation in 2020 after Bulgaria disbanded the State Commission on Gambling.

The AML unit’s launch follows Bulgaria’s national money laundering risk assessment, which flagged deficiencies across a number of sectors.

Bulgarian market continues to grow

At the start of this year, the Bulgarian gambling industry was predicted to generate BGN200m (£88m/€102.3m/$111.7m) for the country’s budget in 2024.

With gambling adding over BGN300m in taxes and fees to the state budget over the last two years, changes to Bulgaria’s tax structure could help boost its financial contribution even further.

However, the fee for obtaining a licence has increased significantly, up 300% on before. Tax on income has also jumped from 15% to 20%.

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Visit the Association of Certified Gaming Compliance Specialists Here

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